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Vernetta Lopez misses the 80s, but not the big hairdos that came with it

by September 5, 2016 General

SINGAPORE, Sept 5 — There is perhaps no better person to play a radio veteran grappling with young-people-speak than Vernetta Lopez, who, in a case of art imitating life, stars in Channel 5’s latest dramedy, Fine Tune, as the head of a radio company.

In the show, she deals with her intern (played by The 5 Search’s Shrey Bhargava), who is a bona-fide millennial. We expect there will be much miscommunication and rolling of eyes on both their parts.

In real life, too, she said, while on set, “We were talking about pagers and floppy disks, and he didn’t know what they were.”

Quipped the 43-year-old: “I have been feeling very much older and older as I go along.”

The show also features lots of flashbacks to the ’80s, with actors playing younger versions of the characters, so it will be nostalgic for older viewers and a history lesson for younger ones.

The best thing about the 1980s, in Lopez’s opinion, is indubitably “the music”.

“I love Depeche Mode; Def Leppard — the more upbeat songs; Olivia Newton-John — she was still hot in the ’80s. You know what? I used to listen to vinyl records of Barry Manilow. I know, right? What was I thinking? Bermuda Triangle was one of my favourite songs from Barry Manilow.”

And the worst thing about the 1980s? “The big, frizzy hair,” she said, without skipping a beat.

Vernetta Lopez stars in 'Fine Tune'. — Picture courtesy of Channel 5Vernetta Lopez stars in ‘Fine Tune’. — Picture courtesy of Channel 5“I don’t mind the shoulder pads. I don’t mind the culottes or the leg warmers that will eventually give you heatstroke. But it’s that hair.

“Sometimes things come back into fashion, but that hair — no, man. That should never come back. It’s like a poodle gone wrong. Even poodles nowadays would go, ‘Dude, that’s a horrible hairstyle’.

“But you never know, right? Somebody might tweak it a bit and go, ‘Ha! I put a clip in! Now I look like a fanciful poodle!”

She can say that because she has seen it all: She’s a child of the ’80s, has been a DJ since 1995 and has worked in television since 1990s sitcom Under One Roof. How have things changed? Here’s her take on the difference between “then” and “now”.


Then: “It was more melodious. I mean, now, of course, you’ve got your Ed Sheerans and Adeles of the world, whose music is gorgeous. But back then, even if it was electronic music, it was melodious and rhythmic. When music inspires you, (it) flips on the imagination, flips on the theatre of the mind, that is when your whole body and your soul get moving in a different way. That’s why music of the ’80s, I feel, and some of the early ’90s, is stuff that is truly good music.”

Now: “Now I find music a lot more annoyingly repetitive. I can hear my parents and grandparents saying, ‘What kind of music is this?’ (But) we are all going to say that line one day! It’s okay to love the music now because as a young one, you are creating your own memories attached to songs.”


Then: “They had a different way of reaching out to you. You can still feel it with Brian Richmond and Mr X on Gold 90.5FM — that classy way of putting those words together to bring out a thought or song.”

Now: “We speak a lot faster, myself included. (Back then) people would tell me, ‘Slow down. You talk too fast.’ But now, when I listen to cassette tape recordings of myself… It feels like someone has taken a tape and played it at the wrong speed: ‘This is too slow!’ The pace of everything has sped up.”


Then: “Back then there was a lot more time given to us to really craft, sandpaper down, polish and make everything perfect before it went on air.”

Now: “We’re rushing things out, because we’re competing. It’s like an apple pie that used to be for 10 people; now, it’s for 100, and it’s the same-sized pie.

“TV used to be one or two channels.

“Now, you’ve got about 50, and we’re competing online as well.

“So, all the more there should be more time and money put into a good show.” — TODAY

* Catch Fine Tune starting September 7, Wednesdays at 9.30pm on Mediacorp TV Channel 5.

** Visit our Facebook page for an exclusive video of Vernetta Lopez singing a Barry Manilow song